In 2013, when I was documenting all the Crawfordite churches in Southeast Georgia, I happened upon a little church and cemetery on my way to Sardis. The church I stopped at, Bethel Methodist, was historic in its own right. It’s a white congregation, but there is a small African-American cemetery adjacent to it. It was there that I met this gentleman, who drove up in a new Cadillac. He was an old-timer, he said, and if I recall was about 80. He shared a bit of the history of why the African-American cemetery was located beside the white church, but unfortunately, I lost that information. He didn’t mind his photograph being made and when asked his name, for documentary purposes, he said to just call him ‘Champion for Christ’, no names otherwise.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Cemeteries
My great-grandmother was from Eastman and while living there, she lost a baby, Mary Elizabeth Browning, in 1923. Over the years we visited Woodlawn Cemetery on numerous occasions to tend to the grave and pay respects to others. Just inside the gates of Woodlawn, two monuments marking children’s graves always caught my attention for their solemnity and the skills of their sculptors/carvers. (Above: Mathew T. Clark (1896-1901), son of Harlow & L. D. Clark)
This monument marks the final resting place of Cora Weaver (1884-19 October 1885), daughter of Mr. & Mrs. D. W. Weaver.
Children’s monuments, so common in older cemeteries, are a sad reminder of the high rates of infant mortality before the advent of modern medicine.
These grave houses, located at Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, mark the final resting places of Clemons* Mercer (1832-1881) and Jane Elizabeth “Janie” Johnson Mercer (1835-1880). Clemons Mercer served in the Third Seminole War in Florida and contracted malaria there in 1856, which he never completely recovered from. He was later a lieutenant in the Emanuel County Militia (Captain Moring’s Company) during the Atlanta Campaign in the Civil War. Janie Mercer bore him 11 children, all of whom lived to adulthood.
Gary Lee writes: Local lore is that it was raining the day of her burial and her husband promised that another raindrop would never touch her grave. Her family actually rebuilt these a few years ago. Also near her are two of her sisters, Hattie and Adeline who were married to twin brothers, George Washington Lee and Henry Clay Lee who gave the land and the materials for the church.
*also recorded as Clemmons Mercer
One of fourteen National Cemeteries administered by the National Park Service, Andersonville is still open for burials today. Few places will put into perspective the human cost of war more than the burial place of so many who paid the ultimate price in preserving our national interests and values.
I’ve visited here numerous times during my life and the impact is always the same. I’m awed by the beauty of the place yet saddened by the loss of so many.
The earliest burials at the site were trench graves of those who died at the adjacent prison at Camp Sumter, and these began in February 1864. In little over a year, over 13,000 men were interred here. The earliest graves are those visible when you first enter the cemetery.
After the war, the remains of many prisoners were confirmed and given proper markers.
Andersonville National Cemetery is still open for burials today, and the National Park Service tries to accommodate as many requests as possible. There are no waiting lists, so such a burial can only be arranged after a veteran’s death. Over 20,000 are interred here today.
Andersonville National Historic Landmark
With its notorious reputation as one of the worst Confederate prison stockades, the site of Camp Sumter inevitably became hallowed ground to the survivors and families of those who died here, including Confederate guards. Between 1899 and 1916, a series of monuments were placed by various states at the stockade site and within the cemetery, and their dedications were huge events, with survivors and regular citizens making the long journey to Andersonville by train. The Georgia Monument (above) was placed on Memorial Day 1976 at the entrance to the cemetery.
State Monuments of the Cemetery Site
The Illinois Monument, a collaboration by sculptor Charles Mulligan and state architect Carbys Zimmerman, is one of the nicest of all the memorials in the cemetery.
Dedicated in 1912, it features a bronze sculpture of Columbia pointing to fallen heroes, flanked by Youth and Maiden.
Statues of anonymous Illinois veterans leaning on the words of Lincoln and saddened by the human loss of war, flank each wing of the monument.
The Iowa Monument, dedicated in 1906, features a weeping woman atop a red base. The front of the base features a relief of an Iowa infantryman and the words: Iowa honors the turf that wraps their clay. The Unknown. Their names are recorded in the archives of their country.
Though it was placed in 1911, the New York Monument wasn’t dedicated until 1914. It features bronze reliefs on the front and back of a tapered granite marker.
The back relief features a young and old soldier sitting inside the stockade with an angel hovering above them. It’s one of the most moving sculptures at the site.
The New Jersey Monument was among the first of the state monuments placed at Andersonville.
It features a soldier at parade rest, surveying the dead.
The Connecticut Monument commission chose a design by Boston sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt. It was dedicated in 1907.
It depicts a typical young Connecticut soldier.
The Minnesota Monument is one of three monuments of the same design that Minnesota dedicated in 1916, the other two being located at the National Cemeteries in Little Rock and Memphis.
It depicts a young Union soldier in a winter coat.
The impressive Pennsylvania Monument features a mournful soldier atop an arch.
It was installed by Miller & Clark Granite and Monumental Works of Americus and dedicated in 1901.
The Maine Monument was erected in 1903. It was dedicated not only in memory of those who died here but to all who served. It was designed and cut by C. E. Tayntor & Company of Hollowell, Maine.
The Indiana Monument was dedicated in 1908.
State Monuments of the Prison Site
The Massachusetts Monument was dedicated in 1901, honoring the state’s 767 known dead at the site.
A favorite of many visitors, the Michigan Monument features a life-size weeping maiden.
It was created by the Lloyd Brothers Monument Company of Toledo, Ohio, and dedicated in 1904. Among those present at the dedication were ten carloads of former veterans from Fitzgerald, Georgia, the Union soldiers colony about an hour east of Andersonville.
At 40 feet, the Ohio Monument is the tallest at Andersonville. Dedicated in 1901, it is the second oldest monument in the park.
Like many of the others in the park, it features the motto “Death Before Dishonor”.
The Wisconsin Monument, accomplished in Georgia granite and topped by a bronze eagle, was dedicated in 1907. This view is from the rear of the monument.
The Rhode Island Monument was dedicated in 1903. As it’s the smallest state, its monument is also the smallest state monument at Andersonville. The 74 Rhode Island soldiers who are buried in the cemetery are all named on the monument. Among the is Charles F. Curtis, 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, who was one of the leaders of the despised Andersonville Raiders. These men were hanged by the other prisoners for terrorizing, stealing from, and even murdering some of their fellow captives.
The so-called 8-State Monument was placed by the Woman’s Relief Corps (auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic) in 1934 to memorialize the states that didn’t have a monument. It was dedicated in 1936. States listed are: Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia.
Other Monuments at Andersonville
Lizabeth Ann Turner was a prominent member of the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) who were instrumental in securing and beautifying the grounds at Andersonville. She had been a volunteer nurse in Boston during the Civil War and in 1895 became the National President of the WRC. Mrs. Turner died while visiting the prison site on 27 April 1907 and this memorial was dedicated to honor her in 1908.
Clara Barton was a leader in the effort to identify the dead at Andersonville and to establish the site as a National Cemetery. This monument, commissioned by the WRC, was dedicated on Memorial Day 1915.
On Memorial Day 1929, this monument commissioned by the Woman’s Relief Corps and authorized by President Hoover, was dedicated. It features two bronze tablets containing the words of the Gettysburg Address and General Logan’s Memorial Day Order of 1868.
There is also a monumental sundial, which isn’t pictured, and a wellhouse at Providence Spring, which will be covered elsewhere.
On 3 May 1989, the anniversary of the liberation of the German prison camp Stalag XVII-B, this monument was dedicated to honor all prisoners of German camps throughout the European theater of World War II. It is the last monument dedicated at Andersonville and is located within the cemetery, unlike the preceding monuments which are located at the prison site.
Southern State Monuments of the Cemetery Site
The Tennessee Monument is unusual in that it honors Southern natives who died at Camp Sumter in service to the Union. It was funded by contributions of Tennessee members of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was dedicated in 1915, within the prison site.
The Georgia Monument, dedicated on Memorial Day 1976, was the last state monument placed at Andersonville. Governor Jimmy Carter, who had worked to have Andersonville included in the National Park System, was instrumental in the monument being placed. It was created by Athens sculptor William J. Thompson. It commemorates lost prisoners of all American wars.
Andersonville National Historic Site
Cuthbert might be the last place one would expect to find an exquisite copy of Michelangelo’s Night, but it’s an unmistakable presence just inside the entrance to historic Rosedale Cemetery. It’s one of the finest examples of anonymous public art to be found in Georgia.
It marks the graves of Aaron Lane Ford (1903-1983) and his wife Gertrude Castellow Ford (1913-1996). Ford was a lifelong Mississippian and represented that state in Congress from 1935-1943. Mrs. Ford was the daughter of Congressman Bryant Thomas Castellow, who represented Georgia in Washington from 1932-1937. Though they spent their married life in Mississippi, I presume Mrs. Ford’s local connections are the reason they were interred here.
The allegorical sculpture was originally created for the tomb of Giuliano de’Medici in Florence and is considered one of Michelangelo’s most important commissions.
Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Chickee is the Seminole word for house, and these iconic shelters are still scattered throughout Florida. To my knowledge, this chickee in the Carter Cemetery is the only such grave shelter in Georgia.
In addition to the construction, the shells marking the graves of George Washington Carter (25 October 1862-4 July 1934) and Millie Louvine Thrift Carter (18 January 1860-30 December 1947) honor a Native American ancestry. Mr. Carter, who was born on Cow House Island, was one of the pioneer settlers of the Okefenokee Swamp. The Thrifts were also early residents of the swamp.